By Alan Ohnsman
Honda’s recent decision to set up Acura as its own business unit is an attempt by the company to focus more on the image of its Acura brand.
For the first time, Acura will have dedicated management, marketing and other resources.
The first premium car brand from an Asian automaker will be known as the Acura Division starting April 1 and be led by U.S. Senior Vice President Mike Accavitti, the company said Thursday in a statement. The company’s namesake Honda Division will be led by Jeff Conrad, and both he and Accavitti will report to U.S. Executive Vice President John Mendel.
The carmaker since last year has acknowledged a need to shake up its premium car brand, which arrived in the U.S. years before Toyota Motor Corp.’s higher-volume Lexus luxury unit. In December Tetsuo Iwamura, Honda’s executive vice president and current North American chief, said fixing Acura, particularly its sedan line, was a top priority for the Tokyo-based company.
The plan for an Acura Division follows Honda’s announcement last month that its forming an Acura Business Planning Office, which starts April 1, to be led by Erik Berkman, the highest-ranking U.S. engineer. Berkman led development of one of Acura’s biggest recent hits, the 2004 TL sedan.
Berkman’s TL helped push Acura to record U.S. sales in 2005 of 209,610 cars and SUVs. In 2013, a decline in Acura sedan sales kept Honda from a combined volume record, with Acura delivering 165,436 vehicles, 21 percent off its peak. A potential change with the creation of Honda and Acura divisions may be dedicated product-development budgets, Mendel said.